TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Brain Injury Radio Network’

Sneak Peeks for Prisoners

My book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, will be released to the public on November 1, 2018 by WriteLife Publishing of Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company.  Here are pre-order links for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Excerpt 6

Chapter 15

Emotional Roller-coaster

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

nurse-clipart-2645bff0709e4cf23bcaff6690965816-1… A few days later, on January 26th, David gave his night nurse a scare, which in turn frightened me. When David’s night nurse Melody checked on David in the middle of the night, she found him sitting up in bed. That’s not so scary, except that David had no control over his body. He was unable to move, and his muscles were slack, but somehow he had found the bed controls that raise and lower the sick-clipart-sick-person-12mattress and fiddled with them enough to bring his upper mattress to a dangerously high, perpendicular position. He was seated precariously upright—nearly flopping over like a Raggedy Andy doll.

When Melody, whom I absolutely adored, told me of the incident the next morning, I detected a barely perceptible grin on David’s face. He had enjoyed his unwitting prank …

 

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SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for Blog

 

 

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

 

Lisa Parker

 

Lisa Parker (survivor) … I went to Al-Anon with my mom last night, and it was gr8!

FocusGroup-ridgetopvirtualsolutions

 

 

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.anim0014-1_e0-1

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . . Carol . . . (for her husband, Andy)

Caregivers SPEAK OUT!

Carol (caregiver for her husband, Andy)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Carol1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Carol

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email? (optional)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

Andy is my spouse. He was 53. He was in a motorcycle accident on his way to work.th

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

I began care the day of the accident. I was in the hospital every day for eight to ten hours waiting for Andy to wake up. We finally came home after five months. I became his full-time caregiver, and I still am. I was 50; I just turned 52.

5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?

No

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

Yes. I was working full-time, but I resigned after the accident.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

We were lucky to have a full team of therapists. But, we had no support-workers because Andy felt that the people were invading his privacy.

8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?

Immediately. I was in the hospital every day to give my husband moral support and the healing effect of touch.

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

My husband’s coma was induced. I was in the ICU (intensive care unit) with him all day. Holding his hands. Playing his music.e799afda1f4dee4bd0c8c6e0606325b1

10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

My husband was admitted to rehab for almost three months. It was exceptionally long. But, he was not in a position to benefit from all the therapies. He suffered from seizures, and the medication made him tired. He slept most of the days. I was at rehab with him all day. I tiptoed out for coffee breaks, but I didn’t go far.

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

I help with Andy’s problems with gait, balance, cognitive functions, memory, and emotional lability (involuntary, sometimes inappropriate, emotional displays of mood, which are overly rapid and exaggerated). I take care of meals, finances, housekeeping, and Andy’s soiled beddings. After continuing physio three times a week, Andy found that his gait and balance improved. The problem with his urinary tract got better on its own. I still accompany him to all his therapy sessions because of his memory problem.

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

Life has become simpler. No running after unnecessary things. This gave me the chance to notice more, and I realized that there all lots of kind and helpful people around the community. Our roles changed – I have to deal with the house and finances.

13. What do you miss the most from pre-brain-injury life?hotel-clipart-transparent-background-4.png

We travel together two or three times a year. Andy was the one who used to plan and book the trips and accommodations. I miss him sharing his ideas about everything.

14. What do you enjoy most in post-brain-injury life?

Being with him. Seeing the progress every day. Listening to his fears and seeing him happy.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

A lot of people are not aware of TBI (traumatic brain injury). I myself never heard of it until my husband was diagnosed as having a TBI. It has drastically changed his life. I have to deal with all the house work and repairs. I have to make the final decisions.

16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?

Yes. Andy used to tell me that there are no regrets in life. Everything is done through our own decisions. We cannot say “What if … ?”No Excuses

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. My role is now changed. My two children and I miss Andy’s ideas, suggestions, and guidance.

18. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes. I have become overprotective. I don’t want to leave my husband alone. My friends are all working, so not only is there no time to meet, but it’s also not easy for me to leave the house without him.

volunteers19. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I would love to volunteer and help other people.

20. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Be patient; time heals. It’s a learning process to both the survivor and the caregiver. And, it’s absolutely worthwhile! It changed my perspectives in life.

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it (intact) with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Knitting through the Honeymoon

Knitting through the Honeymoon

by Liza Spears

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

bride-and-groom-clipart-14I’ve been married for almost seven months. Since my wedding, I’ve knit twenty-five hats, five sweaters, three scarves, and one blanket.

I started my first “married life” knitting project on the third day of my honeymoon. It was a ribbed seed stitch hat in my wedding colors–deep reds and purples. I pretended that it was for my husband, even though I knew there was way no he’d wear such a feminine pattern.Liza Spears Wedding Photo

I started the hat over more times than I can count. I didn’t start over because of any mistakes–I hadn’t dropped a stitch or miscounted any rows. The pattern wasn’t complex. I just knew each time I finished that it wasn’t quite right. Every time I got to the last row of the hat, I’d finish as instructed–threading the yarn through the remaining stitches and pulling it tight. Instead of weaving in the ends, though, I’d just completely undo the whole thing and start from the beginning.

I knew how to knit before I got married, but I never trusted myself to do anythingclipart-knitting-DP2n1R-clipart more complex than a simple hat, knit in the round, just knit, purl, knit, purl. I’m happy to say that out of the twenty-five hats I’ve knit since my wedding day, not a single one is that old favorite of mine. Before the wedding, I avoided new patterns because I avoided counting as much as possible. How could an activity be fun if it involved math?

Liza Spears 062418

Liza Spears – Knitter Extraordinaire

It was that third day of my honeymoon and that brand-new hat pattern that taught me how much I needed to count stitches. I learned that if I was counting stitches, I wasn’t counting other things, like the number of the days my husband had been in the ICU (intensive care unit) or the number of nurses that cried when they saw me. If I focused on the 44 stitches I had to cast on to a pair of size 11 needles, I might not notice that his ICP (intracranial pressure) levels* kept creeping up. The number 44 isn’t so scary when it’s just the number of stitches in a row, but when it’s the number flashing on your husband’s monitor next to “ICP” as one of his nurses ushers you out and three doctors rush in, it is scary.

I wasn’t supposed to have time to knit on my honeymoon. I was supposed to be rappelling down waterfalls in the Azores and soaking in thermal baths, but you can’t do that when you wake up in the middle of your wedding night to the sound of your husband falling down the stairs. Going to the bathroom should be easy. It shouldn’t end with your husband lying in pool of his own blood. The first time you use the phrase “my husband” shouldn’t be when calling 911, and as much as you love your bridesmaid, she isn’t the person you should be sharing your bed with. I wasn’t supposed to spend the third day of my honeymoon in the waiting room of the ICU sobbing with my mom, not understanding why my husband wasn’t awake, and what it meant that his nurse had kicked me out.

In the waiting room, I just focused on the ribbing of the hat. Knit 3. Purl 2. Repeat. I was already switching to larger needles to begin the rest of the hat when my husband’s nurse came out and told me I should say goodnight. The pressures in my husband’s brain were just too high for any extra stimulation, even if I just sat next him counting my knits and purls.

The hospital called me at 4 am the next morning to tell me that they were rushing my husband in for an emergency decompressive craniotomy. They could no longer control the rising pressure in his brain with medication alone, so they removed half of his skull.

I realized I’d have to adjust my hat pattern if it was going to fit my husband’s new head, so I started over, knitting and counting the stitches until he woke up.

*Intracranial pressure levels between 7 and 15 are normal. Levels above 20 are dangerous and indicate brain swelling.

To read more posts by Liza Spears, click on Knit Neutrality.

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

 

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Geo Gosling

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Geo Gosling

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Geo Gosing 1

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Geo Gosling

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

St. Helena, California, USA     goose3@wildblue.net

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

In 1995 at the age of 25

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was riding my bicycle 40-45 mph down a steep hill. (That’s pretty fast on a bicycle.) It was dusk, and I didn’t have a bike-light. A car going in the opposite direction was at the bottom of the hill, didn’t see me, and turned left onto a street. I hit her. In auto accidents, this would be referred to as a “T-bone.” So, while on my bicycle, I “T-boned” a car at about 40 mph.bike

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

Pretty soon thereafter

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I was transported by ambulance to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa. (It should be noted that my crash occurred only a few hundred feet from the St. Helena Hospital and Health Center, but the ambulance was routed to Napa – about 25 min. south of where I was – because “The Queen” is much better prepared for head trauma.) I had a tracheotomy, and my right shoulder was pretty smashed. I fractured two neck vertebrae, so I had a broken neck. Some ribs were broken also. That all pales in comparison to the TBI (traumatic brain injury), however.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

I was technically never in a coma, but I was unconscious for either six or eight days – I don’t remember which. (Funny story – I think: I was technically never in a coma because I would respond to outside stimuli. The doctor demonstrated this by talking loud at me or yelling or saying bad things or something, and I would just lie there in bed give him the finger. I just lay there and flipped him off. I later found out the doctors thought this to be rather amusing.)

Geo Gosling 1

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?

I had both inpatient and outpatient therapy. Both in- and outpatient therapy consisted of occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and “thought” therapy. (I had to see a psychologist because I was rather … ah … depressed. I called it “thought therapy.”) I was in rehab for years. In fact, I still go to massage therapy because my muscles don’t seem to relax too well anymore. Speech therapy helped, but not much because, as a result of my TBI, I have dysarthria, which is basically paralyzed facial muscles. As a result, I have trouble speaking clearly, and I sound a wee-bit tipsy most of the time.

How long were you in rehab?

Years. I still go to massage therapy twice a month.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

Let’s see … where to begin? I’m in constant pain. The part of my brain that is responsible for, or connected to, the gums on the left side of my mouth is injured or damaged or whatever. Anyhow, my brain thinks my gums on the left side of my mouth are telling it that they hurt because something is wrong. Well, something is wrong, but not with my gums. It’s my brain that is confused. My brain “thinks” my gums hurt. So, I just think my gums hurt, but they don’t. (Don’t think about that too long, or you will need to see a shrink.) I don’t like people anymore. I’m pissed off all the time. I haven’t had a date in 20+ years. That could also be why I’m pissed off and don’t like people. I can go from being “happy as a clam” to extremely furious in about ten nanoseconds. (I was never like that before.) My balance is terrible – I fall over very easily. (I couldn’t run to save my life – assuming I wanted to save it. I can’t even walk fast.) I have arthritis in my neck – hurts like hell. My lower back hurts often.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

Is this a trick question?

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss a career I enjoyed, laughing, hope, feeling good, living, friends.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

Is this another trick question?

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

Let’s see … where to begin? I dislike my speech. I hate the constant pain. I’m unhappy with having no friends, no job, little money, and no hope. That about covers it.

dT76zBKac14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Passage of time, but nothing really helped. I just realized shit happens, and you have to deal with it.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

I live alone and always will. I can’t really deal with people anymore. I don’t trust anyone, the reason being that my psychologist lied to me. As a result, I ended up in the mental ward of St. Helena Hospital and Health Center for two nights and three days. I also had a therapist call the police after I had done what SHE SAID I SHOULD DO!

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

I used to have somewhat of a social life, but now, the only person I do anything with is my mom. That’s a tad depressing.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

I don’t really have one now.

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I have no future plans. I will probably be doing the exact same thing ten years from now – nothing.

Geo Gosling 3

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Just deal with it the best you can.

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Do as much stuff for yourself as you can. Doing “everyday living” stuff is the best therapy. If you can walk, walk as much as you can.

Check out these books by Geo Gosling.

 TBI Hell by Geo Gosling 4      TBI Purgatory by Geo Gosling 5

 

 

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Jason Westhoff

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Jason Westhoff

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Jason Westhoff IMG_9574

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Jason Westhoff

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Phoenix, Arizona, USA     jrwesthoff1@gmail.com

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

March 11, 2012     Age 29

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was assaulted after leaving a club in Peoria, Illinois.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

I realized I had a problem around eight months after the assault. I was in the Emergency Room and honestly realized I had lost all control. I had no clue how to go about regaining that control and made many wrong attempts over the next five years.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

Hospital thI was knocked unconscious from the assault, and I was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The medical staff noticed the swelling, and, as a result, I was taken into emergency surgery. I had a craniotomy to relieve the swelling.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

After the emergency surgery, I was placed in an induced coma for approximately three weeks. I had another two surgeries during this time.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

I had approximately three weeks of inpatient rehab before I was discharged. Afterwards, I continued physical, occupational, and speech therapies on a twice-weekly basis for approximately three months before I returned to school. At this time, I knew something was different, but I did not understand the battles I was fighting.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

After my TBI (traumatic brain injury), I was a completely different person. It took me years to realize the extent of my injury. My balance and normal body functions were the easiest to check and the most obvious. The major changes, which I am still trying to adjust to daily, are my personality and perception during normal life-events. My injury has placed strains on every previous relationship I had and the new ones I have developed. I honestly feel like two completely different people. I still have the same general personality, but my ability to adjust to unplanned change is the ability most affected. I have a problem with the skill of adjusting in the moment.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?Better Worse

My life has been extreme on both sides. It seems as if everything is extremely better or extremely worse on a rotating cycle. I am thankful on the whole because of the strength I have found to deal will all issues that have occurred. I am still working every day on my recovery, but I know, through this fire, I will become a better human being.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss my intellect and communication skills. It always feels as if I’m grasping for, but never quite reaching my projected goal.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I enjoy the communities I never knew about and the social interaction within the “brain-injury-support community”. There is a bond, which I have never quite been able to explain to others, of just knowing how something feels.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

Medicine side-effects!Medicine bottle 7Ta6Ezr8c

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Time. It has been extremely difficult to adjust and accept my brain injury.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. It has been hard to be a successful father without the resources desired. Relationships in general have been a struggle because I don’t completely understand myself at all times. There is a constant unbalance in my life since the injury.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes. I had struggles – extreme struggles – in my social life, primarily involving drugs and alcohol. Alcohol was a bigger problem than the drugs. I often get so stressed and/or anxious I want to drown my thoughts away. It is very easy just to give up at times.

Jason Westhoff Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor with Parents, Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

My parents have been my main caregivers, my mother in particular for emotional support, which is where it has been needed most. It took me 2-3 years to start to comprehend the stress involved in being a caregiver, until I really tried to manage Jayla (my daughter) by myself for an extended period of time.

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

My plans as of this moment are just trying to get my medications set and lowering my mental-fatigue issues. My focus is primarily on understanding my new mind and body so I then have the ability to make the proper adjustments. I love it here in Arizona! By the time I do my radio interview with Donna, I will have been in Arizona for fourteen months. I am currently looking forward to doing more work in the brain-injury community.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Listen! Listen! Listen! I am one of the worst listeners. I have proved this point time and time again. I would suggest to swallow your pride and let people help you.Ear_clip_art-1

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

My best advice to give to any survivor is to never stop growing. Don’t become content with your situation. We can always improve!

 

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

 

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Shelley Taylor and her daughter, Taylor Trammell (survivors)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Shelley Taylor and her daughter, Taylor Trammell (survivors)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

Shelley Taylor and her daughter, Taylor Trammell (survivors)

Taylor, Shelley survivorValentine’s Day 2010 would turn into a complete game-changer – a day we will never forget. It’s a day I’ve documented so, if the day comes when my memory is gone, I can always reflect back on God’s goodness and mercy. Following is my account of the night we were poisoned. God provided the most beautiful second chance.

We were experiencing a “Texas Winter” and had received about six inches of snow. We had been without power for three days. On day 3, we ran a generator in the driveway, near our garage. The garage door and windows were open. The Fire Chief later told us that, since it was so cold and there was no wind, the carbon monoxide gas probably just settled. Instead of blowing away, it just crept back into the house via the eaves.

Trammell, Taylor Survivor 050617

Taylor Trammell – Brain Injury Survivor

Taylor (my daughter; 13 at the time) and I had gone to bed. She told us that someone had called her name and she was trying to get up to see who it was. She got up, fell face-first into the wall, collapsed and crawled out of her bedroom, shimmied up the wall, and collapsed again. The thud of Taylor falling on the concrete floor is what woke me up. Charlie (her dad and my ex-husband) heard this as well from the living room. We went to the hallway and found Taylor passed out and lying on her face. We couldn’t get her to respond! Charlie sent me for the flashlight that was by my bed. On my way, I felt like I was not right either. I got the flashlight and ran back to the hall so I could get to Charlie to let him know I wasn’t OK. I knew that if I collapsed in the bedroom, he wouldn’t know to come for me.

Everything was spinning out of control, and I was experiencing the worst feelings I had ever had! When I turned the corner to the hallway, I collapsed face-first (without using my hands or arms to brace myself). I fell onto the metal flashlight and severely cut my forehead. I told Charlie I felt blood running down my face. He looked at me with the flashlight and said he had to get me to the hospital! My head began to pulse blood. Taylor, I, and the walls were covered in blood. Meanwhile, Taylor was in and out of consciousness. I was having convulsions and banging my face into the concrete floor. Charlie then called 9-1-1.

First to respond were the police. Charlie told them we had no power, so they used their flashlights. They immediately saw my blood and the bloody handprints in our hallway, and Charlie had my blood on him as well. Immediately they accused Charlie of a crime. Shortly thereafter, the fire department arrived, and luckily Charlie knew one of the firefighters who quickly came to Charlie’s defense. Charlie told the Fire Chief of the generator, and immediately the Chief went to the truck to get the carbon monoxide detector. Even at the entrance to our driveway, the readings on the detector began to rise quickly. The readings went higher as he got closer to the house. Upon reaching the door, he called for his crew to exit the house and got Charlie, Taylor, and our dogs out as well. Paramedics were left inside with me to get me stable enough for transport to the hospital. Eventually I left by ambulance, and Charlie and Taylor left in Charlie’s truck.ambulance6

At Mansfield Methodist Hospital, Taylor’s and my blood gases were checked. They were found to be “through the roof.” We were then transported to Dallas Methodist to use their hyperbaric chamber. First, my head injury was closed up with fifteen stitches, and I had to have a CT (computerized tomography) scan to make sure I was transportable. Off we went in the ambulance. Upon arriving at Dallas Methodist, a doctor explained the procedures for going into the hyperbaric chamber. (I was trying to comprehend all of this while the carbon monoxide was still doing damage to my brain!) We found out that the family that had just been in the chamber before us had all died, except the father – not comforting!

When we came home, my sister Kimberley moved in for approximately a month. Physically, my head was healing, but, mentally, I was left with a traumatic brain injury. I literally started over with kindergarten flashcards (I would look at an apple and say “library”), and my friends and family completed most of my sentences. My neurologist was a great comfort to me as I struggled with memory and cognitive skills.

My neurologist also told me that people don’t survive what we went through. He said they really don’t know how to treat me. He said carbon monoxide goes into your brain and destroys whatever it attaches to, and we have no control over what functions are affected.CO-Danger

Taylor and I struggle daily, but some recovery continues every day for both of us. Taylor is young, and healing has come differently for her. Memory and migraines are big battles she continues to face.

I’ve come a long way, but I continue to deal with balance, breathing, vision, and memory. It seems I have fallen more times than I’ve stood. By far, my greatest challenge is breathing. Every day, at some point I struggle to breathe. Coughing has become my norm.

Memory LossMy memory is horrible at times, and I’ve lost so many precious memories. Taylor and I have a routine when it comes to trying to remember things. We just look at each other and ask, “Did we have fun?” The one who remembers says to the other, “Yes, we had fun!” That’s all that matters.

What a Valentine’s Day! Taylor saved us by miraculously waking. We endured my bloody head injury which required fifteen stitches, a concussion, a CT scan, blood gas analyses, ambulance rides, and approximately three-hour “dives” in a hyperbaric chamber. (And, we’re both very claustrophobic!) Nothing says “I love you” like a brain injury.

To be alive is amazing, in whatever capacity! God is good – no, great!

 

Thank you, Shelley Taylor and Taylor Trammell, for sharing your story.

Surviving Brain Injury - Stories of Strength & InspirationNOTE 1:

Taylor Trammell and her mother, Shelley Taylor, are contributing authors in “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer. Shelley and Taylor’s story is titled, “Our Story of Poisoning — and of Grace.” It can be found in Chapter 75 on page 299.

NOTE 2:

My story, “Nightmare in the Disability Lane,” can be found in Chapter 29 on page 114 of the same book, “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer.

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